Two armed robbers who hurled racist abuse at a shopkeeper as they threatened staff and customers with a knife and an imitation handgun have been locked up.

Lewis Callaghan and Stephen Mark stormed into the convenience store with their hoods up and masks over their faces alongside their accomplice Aaron Stubley before they stole cash, cigarettes, and scratch cards.

Police were able to trace the defendants’ movements from CCTV cameras and soon raided the nearby home of 40-year-old Mark where they recovered a knife and all of the stolen goods.

Teesside Crown Court watched CCTV footage showing Callaghan holding what appeared to be handgun to intimidate staff and customers before knocking one woman out when he pushed her to the floor.

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Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said the customer bravely confronted the 27-year-old while he was stopping people getting in and out of the shop.

He said: “She didn’t think it was genuine, she thought it was a bike pump, she confronted him and said – ‘what are going to do with that, pump my tyres up?’ “The customer tried to disarm him but Callaghan pushed her to the floor and she was knocked out.”

Mr Dryden told the court how Callaghan threatened to ‘blow her head off’ before others could be heard shouting racist abuse.

The Northern Echo: Lewis CallaghanLewis Callaghan (Image: Cleveland Police)

When police arrived at Mark’s home, they arrested him and Stubley before there was a stand-off on the roof while Callaghan threw roof tiles at the police officers and their vehicles.

The armed trio also hurled racist abuse while they were robbing Raj Stores, on the corner of Birchington Avenue and Derwentwater Road, in Grangetown, near Middlesbrough.

The Northern Echo: Raj Stores, GrangetownRaj Stores, Grangetown (Image: Google)

A judge heard how they gang had stolen £800 in cash, £1,100 worth of cigarettes, and £450 worth of scratch cards. All of which was recovered by police.

Callaghan, of Birdsall Row, Redcar, was found guilty of robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and assault on the shop customer. He pleaded guilty to assault on an emergency worker and a separate charge connected to an unrelated burglary.

The Northern Echo: Stephen MarkStephen Mark (Image: Cleveland Police)

Mark, of Ullswater Close, Grangetown, near Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of a bladed article following the offence on January 15 last year.

Mr Dryden said Stubley had been jailed in a separate hearing when he was jailed for seven years six months with an extended three-year licence period.

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Paul Abrahams, representing Callaghan, said his client was struggling drink and drugs at the time of the offence but was less likely to offend once he was clean.

While Rod Hunt, representing Mark, said this was the first time his client had committed an offence as serious as robbery but was in the grip of drug and alcohol addiction at the time.

Recorder Aisha Wadoodi said: “All of you went in to commit this serious offence of robbery, you all tried to mask your identities with hoods and masks, you Callaghan had an imitation firearm.”

Callaghan was jailed for eight years with an additional three years on extended licence while Mark was locked up for six years and seven months for his role in the robbery.